Heroes of the Storm

Improving Player Retention and Revenue

HeroesoftheStorm 9 - Improving Player Retention and Revenue
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Despite how bleak the circumstances around the game appear to be the game itself is at a developmental apex. With close to 100 heroes, well over a dozen battlegrounds, and an accumulation of balance alterations over the years the state of the actual game trajectory differs from the state of the playerbase, revenue, and development support trajectories. The actual game itself didn't break or decay, quite the opposite.

Personally I believe the state of gaming in general is borderline wretched as developers seem to be looking to make money rather than new or special experiences. Gaming has become a game of money rather than art, imagination, immersion, complexity or anything deeper. Leading games are up there in age or follow old concepts. What this translates to is loose attachment and a serious segment of people willing to try more games. When you look at the trash people resort to playing hope springs eternal as the popularity of gaming appears to continue to expand. While Heroes of the Storm is obviously not terribly innovative it has viable differences.

Long story short for multiple reasons I don't believe this game is a lost cause. It's still a Blizzard game with all the benefits of one. Given after everything it still survives there's something to work with. The present circumstances call for efficient changes. In my opinion the new or potential player perspective is overlooked, as well as that of players who have been driven away from HotS. I'm referring to hero access and the dysfunction of the abusive chat report category.

Choose Your Own Bundle

  • fixed discount percentage (e.g. 75%)
  • hero content number is a range (e.g. 20-35)
  • buy button is a choose button
  • following screen same as now, rectangular fields containing heroes
  • initial field number corresponds to the minimum hero number of the bundle
  • clicking a field utilizes the existing quickmatch hero selection screen
  • at the end of the bundle there is a Select Another Hero field until the maximum number is reached
  • once the minimum number of heroes have been selected the purchasing option is enabled

I think that allowing players to choose the heroes as well as the number of heroes greatly increases the appeal of bundles. A 20-35 heroes with a 75% discount bundle and a 5-15 heroes with a 60% discount bundle would give extensive access to players as well as accommodate returning players.

Coin Purses

  • Contain Gold, Silver, and Shards. Provide temporary access to the heroes of your choice through Silver as well as permanent ownership of heroes and cosmetics through Gold and Shards.
  • Silver is a new currency used for unlocking any hero for 30 days. It's as simple as another coin drawing with an amount. Every hero costs 1,000 silver and silver expires seven days after being obtained. As far as I can tell there are three screens where the Hero currencies appear. So just put another field with Silver there. Put a 1,000 Silver field in the top right corner of where Heroes are listed with their models. On their individual pages you obviously just put Silver next to Gold, plenty of space. On the hero selection screen in Quick Match put Silver above the shopping cart icon. Just like with Gems if you don’t have enough Silver you’re redirected to the acquisition page.
  • Offered on a separate page like Boosts with a similar icon at the top right of the screen and/or through clicking on Silver at the top bar. Obviously the page would be under Collection.
  • Optionally would be opened in Loot and there would be redirection under Loot.
  • Purchasable directly, not with gems.

Common Coin Purse – $1.99

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2,000 gold
3,000 silver
100 shards

Rare Coin Purse – $4.99

5,000 gold
10,000 silver
250 shards

Epic Coin Purse – $9.99

10,000 gold
25,000 silver
500 shards

Legendary Coin Purse – $14.99

15,000 gold
50,000 silver
750 shards

The point of this idea is to provide controlled, reliable access to heroes at affordable rates while not doing so as a mere subscription. The Coin Purses yield ownership and act as a bridge for time/activity-based gold accumulation. The math doesn't work out to replacing Gems with more expensive items.

Mitigation of Abusive Chat Reporting

Suspensions culminating in bans are triggered by accumulation of reports. There is no penalty for false reports and accumulation of reports does not represent a community consensus. Depending on player activity and how long reports stick for a small reporting minority can constitute "community policing". Indications are Game Masters do not use any agreed upon or intuitive standards for upholding suspensions. Sometimes they even invoke the concept of community policing in claiming that "the community" has made a decision and that's all that is necessary for things to make sense.

Suspensions from a particular game mode rather than from the game altogether were introduced on the explicit belief (per former game director Dustin Browder) that communication was so important players who couldn't type (mind you, they could still read the chat) would be holding their teams back. Abundant experience to the contrary aside, you can see it presently recommended for players to disable chat and to even avoid pinging in order to avoid suspensions. Blizzard has apparently even intervened by automatically disabling or discounting reports in such circumstances.

The consequences of this system are punishment of activity, forced silence, account insecurity, and ultimately a loss of players as well as revenue. The system can be altered to make sufficient sense without unrealistic measures like having someone check every report but that's a story for a different time. The easiest thing to do is to wipe out the penalties and durations – a reset – and to revert the penalty to silence only (pinging not included).

Weakness and immaturity have made enormous inroads in gaming in recent years. While it's important to take measures against people saying whatever they want to say doing so stupidly comes at a great cost. Targeting the behavior rather than the players in absence of putting in the thought and principle to implement a system that makes sense will at least give players the confidence that they won't lose their progression and money. As developers you have to realize that people are different. The passive types and the immature represent only a segment of this game's potential playerbase. You cannot take comfort in some people believing that things are working as they should be. You've been running out of people for a reason.

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